Herb Washington

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Herb Washington
Pinch runner
Born: (1951-11-16) November 16, 1951 (age 62)
Belzoni, Mississippi
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 4, 1974 for the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
May 4, 1975 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
Games played 105
At bats 0
Runs 33
Stolen bases 31
Career highlights and awards

Herbert Lee Washington (born November 16, 1951 in Belzoni, Mississippi) is a former world-class sprinter in the early 1970s who parlayed his speed into a brief Major League Baseball stint, and later became the owner/operator of numerous McDonald's restaurants, a minor-league professional hockey franchise and held a number of high-ranking executive posts on varied boards and organizations.

Washington became one of the world's most celebrated sprinters as a student-athlete at Flint Central High School and Michigan State University.[1] The four-time all-American won one NCAA title, seven Big Ten titles, and tied or broke the world record in the 50- and 60-yard dashes several times.[1] He went on to gain further recognition as a player for Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics, despite his lack of previous baseball experience.[2]

Pro baseball career[edit]

In 1974, Washington was tapped by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley to become the team's "Designated Runner." Despite having no professional baseball experience, and having last played baseball in high school, Washington was a member of the Athletics 1974 World Series championship team. His major league debut was on April 4, 1974 against the Texas Rangers.

Appearing as a pinch-runner for Joe Rudi in game two of the 1974 World Series, Washington was picked off first base in a crucial ninth-inning situation by Dodgers' reliever Mike Marshall.[1]

Washington played in 105 major league games without batting, pitching, or fielding, playing exclusively as a pinch runner.[2] He had 31 stolen bases in 48 attempts and scored 33 runs during his short career.[1] He was released one month into the 1975 season.[2] Washington is one of only seven players to have more game appearances than plate appearances.[3]

Washington's 1975 Topps baseball card is the only baseball card ever released that uses the "pinch runner" position label.[4] [5]

Business career[edit]

Following his 13-month stint as the only "Designated Runner" in Major League history, Washington joined the professional track and field circuit and remained in competition until 1976.

In 1980, he moved from the Detroit area to Rochester, New York, where he opened an inner-city McDonald's Family Restaurant. He added his second local McDonald's franchise seven months later, and in 1986 he opened a McDonald's in suburban Pittsford, New York. He acquired a total of five Rochester-area McDonald's franchises and became one of the nation's most successful African-American restaurateurs.

Washington was Co-Chairman of the Small Business Committee of the United Way, and was active in the Urban League of Rochester. Washington was named to the New York State Athletic Commission in 1990. In 1992, he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo, New York, branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and later was named Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.[6]

In 1998, Washington purchased most of the Youngstown, Ohio, area McDonald's franchises from Sam Covelli, once the largest McDonald's franchise owner in the United States.

In 2005, he founded the Youngstown Steelhounds minor league hockey franchise, becoming one of the first African-American owners of a professional hockey league team.

Washington currently resides in the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, Ohio, with his wife and children.


  1. ^ a b c d "Player Page". BaseballHistory.com. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  2. ^ a b c "Player Page". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  3. ^ Spatz, Lyle (2007). TheSABR Baseball List & Record Book – Baseball's Most Fascinating Records and Unusual Statistics. United States: Simon & Schuster. p. 496. ISBN 9781416532453. 
  4. ^ "Herb Washington". [dead link]
  5. ^ "Baseball's Only Designated Runner: Herb Washington". 
  6. ^ African-American Who's Who, Past & Present, Greater Rochester Area by Mike F. Molaire, Marsha Jones, Fred Tanksley New Millenium Edition., by Mike F. Molaire, Marsha Jones, Fred Tanksley, p. 193–4

External links[edit]